Category Archives: Adolescents

It’s All About the Relationship

It is All About the Relationships

We read the news about teens in the United States:

  • 47.4% had ever had sexual intercourse
  • 33.7% had had sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months, and, of these
  • 39.8% did not use a condom the last time they had sex
  • 76.7% did not use birth control pills or Depo-Provera to prevent pregnancy the last time they had sex
  • 15.3% had had sex with four or more people during their life[1]

Those statistics terrify parents, faith leaders, educators, business leaders—and for good reason.  The ramifications are more than we want to consider.  In light of this, it is easy to narrow our focus.  It is all about sex!

Many times that is where the fight centers.  It is about sex!  It is about teaching individuals not to have sex.  It is about teaching individuals to use contraceptives when having sex.  It is all about sex!

But it isn’t!

It is about the relationship!  It is about the need that humans have to be intimate with another person, to feel desired and wanted and attractive and worthy.  It is about being known by another person in the most intimate way possible.  It is about being naked—physically and emotionally and know that you are safe!

It is about the relationship with parents, knowing that if you ask a question about sex you won’t be judged, ostracized or put on restriction.  It is knowing that your teen is a lot like you were when you were their age—full of all the questions, fears, yearnings.  It about allowing your relationship to grow and develop.

It is about the relationship with those who aren’t related to us, caring enough about the students in your class to know that what happens when they leave has as much to do with what they learn as what happens in class.  It is knowing that if we don’t care enough about young people that we won’t have customers or workers in a few years, let along any one to pay for my Social Security!

It is about the relationships!

It is helping our young people make good decisions about their sexuality, but even more about how they navigate the troubled emotional waters.  As Amber Madison reminded us at the recent Summer Institute, it all comes back to that note we used to pass in grade school: “I like you. Do you like me?  Check yes or no!”

As important as it is for us to help our youth deal with questions about sexuality—and we must help them make smart, informed, wise decisions—we also have to help them answer the relationship questions.  “How do you know when you are in love? “  “Why does it hurt so bad when she said no?”  “Why won’t anyone ask me out?”

These questions are just as important—if not more basic!



[1] Youth Risk Behavior Survey.


A version of this appeared on the SC Campaign Personal Perspective Blog.  You can read it here!


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Filed under Adolescents, Life issues, teen pregnancy

Just the facts

In the old TV show Dragnet, Sgt. Joe Friday was famous for his line “Just the facts, ma’am.”  But sometimes I think we really don’t want the facts.  We prefer the spin.  Fortunately there are groups who will still give us just the facts.

The Center for Disease Control conducts the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) every 2 years with High School students to discover what risky behaviors they are involved in.  Some of them might not seem that important–riding a bike without a helmet, not eating vegetables in the past 2 days, not getting enough exercise.  But others make us stop and shudder.  At least I hope they do!

The latest results were just released.  Here are a sampling, comparing the US and SC.




Has ridden with a driver who has been drinking alcohol (in the past 30 days)



Drove when drinking alcohol (in the past 30 days)



Carried a gun at least 1 day (in the past 30 days)



Drank alcohol for the first time before age 13



Had at least one drink of alcohol on at least 1 day (in past 30 days)



Ever used marijuana one or more times(during their life)



Ever had sexual intercourse



Had sexual intercourse for the first time before age 13



Had sexual intercourse with four or more persons (during their life)



Did not use birth control pills before last sexual intercourse



The asterisks indicate where there is a significant difference between SC and the United States.  You can see the whole report and compare your home area here.

If you go through and look at past years you will see that we are making progress!  That is the good news!  But…

As we head toward Father’s Day, I do wonder what these facts have to say about us as a nation, as parents, as fathers.

There will be more about this!  But today, just let the numbers sink in.

  • 15.8% of students had seriously considered attempting suicide during the 12 months before the survey.
  • 20.1% of students had been bullied on school property during the 12 months before the survey
  • 25.6% of students had been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug by someone on school property during the 12 months before the survey.
  • Among the 33.7% of currently sexually active students 60.2% reported that either they or their partner had used a condom during last sexual intercourse and 23.3% reported that either they or their partner had used birth control pills.

Just the facts, ma’am!

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Filed under Adolescents